Cuba in the American Imagination

Metaphor and the Imperial Ethos

By Louis A. Pérez Jr.

352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 105 illus., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-7210-9
    Published: September 2011
  • Large Print ISBN: 978-0-8078-8693-9
    Published: January 2013
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-8694-6
    Published: August 2008
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8261-5
    Published: August 2008

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Awards & distinctions

A Nota Bene selection of The Chronicle of Higher Education

For more than two hundred years, Americans have imagined and described Cuba and its relationship to the United States by conjuring up a variety of striking images--Cuba as a woman, a neighbor, a ripe fruit, a child learning to ride a bicycle. Louis A. Pérez Jr. offers a revealing history of these metaphorical and depictive motifs and discovers the powerful motives behind such characterizations of the island as they have persisted and changed since the early nineteenth century. Drawing on texts and visual images produced by Americans ranging from government officials, policy makers, and journalists to travelers, tourists, poets, and lyricists, Pérez argues that these charged and coded images of persuasion and mediation were in service to America's imperial impulses over Cuba.

About the Author

Louis A. Pérez Jr. is J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History and director of the Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the author of many award-winning books, including On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture and To Die in Cuba: Suicide and Society (both from the University of North Carolina Press).
For more information about Louis A. Pérez Jr., visit the Author Page.


"Brilliant. . . . Perez's study--the latest in a series of perceptive books on US-Cuba relations by this prolific historian--illustrate[s] how an avid US self-interest was transformed into selfless moral enactment."--The Nation

"Perez draws on politicians' speeches, newspaper editorials and comic strips published over the century and a half before the revolution to show that Cubans were consistently represented not as agents of their own destiny but as innocent victims."--London Review of Books

"Argues that Cuba was a laboratory of American imperialism. . . . Skillfully analyses how the metaphor of neighbour and neighbourhood was employed to justify U.S. intervention in Cuba in the late 1890s. . . . Includes a remarkable number of pictorial descriptions of Cuba from a wide range of American newspapers and magazines."--Times Literary Supplement

"An indispensable study of U.S. policy towards Cuba. . . . A necessary preface for all other analyses of the subject."--Diplomatic History Review

"A quietly ferocious critique of US foreign policy as seen through the lens of Cuban-US relations."--Virginia Quarterly Review

"[An] excellent and highly recommended study. . . . One of the most important contributions to the debate about US-Cuban relations. . . . Should be required reading for policymakers, Latin Americanists, and Cuban exiles everywhere."--Latin American Review of Books